ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano has released his weekly NFL MVP Watch, and Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has cracked his list:
10. Vontaze Burfict, Bengals LB. Extensive research by the tireless MVP Watch staff has confirmed that no player named Vontaze has ever won an MVP award in any of the four major American pro sports leagues. So history is not on his side. But if history were on his side, and if it were carrying a football, Burfict likely would tackle it. He’s leading the league in tackles and came up with 13 of them on a bad ankle Sunday in a big victory in San Diego. The Bengals’ defense has weathered the loss of superstar lineman Geno Atkins better than anyone could have expected, and Burfict is a big part of the reason why.
As of now, he leads the NFL in tackles at 131 stops, just ahead of Kiko Alonso’s 125 and Paul Posluszny’s 113. To put that into perspective, Alonso is leading all middle linebackers in Pro Bowl voting.
And just to show how strong Burfict’s work ethic is, he practiced Wednesday even though head coach Marvin Lewis indicated after Sunday’s game he wouldn’t work until Thursday. He may not be getting the recognition he deserves, but he’s certainly earning the respect of his teammates and peers.